USCIS Finally Agrees That Spouses of L-1 and E Visa Holders Can Work in the U.S. Without First Applying for a Work Permit (EAD)

November 10, 2021 Husbands and wives of L-1 intracompany transferees who come to the U.S. on L-2 visas will no longer need to submit an I-765 form and receive a work permit (EAD) card in order to accept U.S. employment.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

For years, USCIS argued that spouses of L-1 intracompany transferee visa holders (that is, L-2 dependent spouses) and spouses of E-1 and E-2 visa holders had no automatic right to work in the United States. This was despite many attorneys pointing out that U.S. immigration law, specifically I.N.A. § 214(c)(2)(E), seemed to contradict this. Nevertheless, USCIS continued insisting that these dependent spouses actually submit a Form I-765 application for a work permit (also called an employment authorization document or EAD) and then receive approval and a work permit card before accepting employment in the United States.

In November 2021, however, in response to a lawsuit (Shergill, et al. v. Mayorkas), USCIS at last agreed to change its position.

Starting soon (or at least in early 2022), these spouses will be considered employment authorized "incident to status." In other words, they don't have to take any extra steps to receive official government approval to work, and they don't need to show an EAD card to U.S. employers proving their right to work.

The U.S. government will eventually change the Form I-94 that spouses of L-1 and E visa holders receive upon entry to the United States to indicate this. Such an I-94 will be considered a List C document, which can be entered on the Form I-9 that employers must have new employees fill out in order to demonstrate a right to work in the United States.

Effective Date: November 10, 2021